Street Views: 17 and 1 Suppl.
Address: 4-12 Regent Street
When John Nash was working on his Regent Street project, he ran into financial difficulties and James Burton came to his rescue. In return, Nash promoted the career of Burton’s son Decimus. Burton was a builder/developer who had already made his mark in building houses in Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury Square and Russell Square and was later to found the new town of St Leonards-on-Sea (see here). He bought up the leases of parts of Regent Street and one such plot was 4-12 Regent Street. Instead of just building individual houses, he envisaged one large building in which many professionals could have their office. According to James Elmes in his Topographical Dictionary of London and its Environs (1831), it was “a large handsome building”, “fitted up as sets of chambers for gentlemen and professional men”. It seems to have been ready for occupation in 1820.
If you compare the elevations for the property in the 1839 and 1847 editions of the Street View for that section of Regent Street, it is noticable that in 1839, the names of various tradesmen are written above the building: Luck, Kent and Cumming sell carpets, Jones is a tailor, Hatch is a bootmaker and Seguin has a library and ticket office. Not really the professionals you envisage in chambers. But the only name visible above the 1847 depiction of the building is that of the London Life & Fire Assurance Corporation.
The directory of the 1839 Street View does not help us very much either. Besides the four names we have just encountered in the elevation, the directory also mentions Ryalls & Co, a publisher, the London Assurance Corporation and just one firm of solicitors: Fuller and Saltwell. But, in the 1847 directory, the situation is quite different. Besides various shopkeepers, who, I assume, had their shop on the ground floor, quite a few architects and solicitors are listed as the occupants of the building.
number 4: Luck, Kent & Cumming, carpet manufacturers
number 6: Jones, Tailor
number 8: –
number 10: London Assurance Corporation
number 12: Bailey & Moon, booksellers
number 4: no name specified
number 6: –
number 8: Mr. J. McMahon Du Pasquier, solicitor; Mr. Humby, solicitor; Mr. Blake, solicitor; Mr. Gell, solicitor; Cundy, solicitor; D.E. Columbine, solicitor; Mr. Snell, surveyor
number 10: –
number 12: Mr. Parish, architect; Fuller and Saltwell, solicitors; Mr. Vane, solicitor; Mr. Railton, architect; Mr. Laing, architect; Elmstie and Lee, architects; Mr. Hayes, solicitor; Mr. Mee, architect
I will write about the individual shopkeepers mentioned by Tallis separately at some point, but for this post, I will concentrate on Fuller and Saltwell.
Frederick James Fuller (-1874)(1) and William Henry Saltwell (1793-1875)(2), solicitors, seem to have been the most permanent fixture amongst the occupants of the building as they can be found there right at the beginning in 1820 and they are still there in 1873. The first notice in the newspapers I found for them at Carlton Chambers is 25 February 1820 in The Morning Chronicle where they advertise for information on a missing young man. The last notice I found is on 5 July 1873 in The Ipswich Journal when they, still from Carlton Chambers, deal with the estate of the Reverend Robert Gordon, deceased.
At some point Fuller and Saltwell were assessed for a tax according to Act 48 Geo. 3. c. 55, to which they – unsuccessfully – objected and the report on the case gives us an interesting insight into the building and its use. Fuller and Saltwell claimed that “they were not liable to be rated to the duties on inhabited dwelling-houses, no person sleeping or boarding in their said chambers”. Their office was on the first floor of Carlton Chambers and
“the whole house being built for the express purpose of letting out in sets of chambers to gentlemen, with a public staircase, the same as in the inns of court, but with the exception of a door to the entrance from the street, which door is kept open during the day, but shut at night, and then opened when required by a porter or a female, who constantly reside in the lower part of the building for that purpose, as well as taking care of the chambers. Messrs. Fuller and Saltwell hold a lease granted by the owners of the building for 21 years, determinable at the option of either party, at the expiration of 10 years. The porter above-mentioned cleans the public stairs and keeps the chambers, and is paid by Messrs. Fuller and Saltwell as well as all the other occupants of sets of chambers 2s. 6d. per week, for so doing. The female also lights the fires in the appelants’ chambers, cleans the same, and is paid by them and the other occupants of chambers 4s. per week for her services.”(3)
I have looked in various sources to complete the picture for the period 1820-1850 and a long list of occupants could be compiled for Carlton Chambers, most of them architects, surveyors, attorneys or solicitors. Two are perhaps of note and worth mentioning: Decimus Burton, the son of the builder James Burton, became an architect and had his office at Carlton Chambers and so did George Gilbert Scott when he first started his career.
In 1938, the Carlton Chambers building was replaced by Rex House, designed by the architect Robert Cromie. At some point, it housed the BBC radio studios.
(1) Fuller died 25 December 1874 at 93 Maida-vale. Probate was granted on 9 March 1875 to two of his sons, Frederick, also a solicitor, and the reverend Charles James, clerk.
(2) More information on Saltwell here.
(3) Cases Determined on Appeal, Relating to Assessed Taxes. England for the years 1824, 1825, & 1826, Case 35.